Shopian: In a region already struggling for want of proper healthcare facilities, reports that the high-flow oxygen plant will be shifted from district hospital Shopian to somewhere else have led to outrage among the general public in this mountainous district.
The authorities remain tight-lipped on the matter while rumours spread that the oxygen plant is being taken away from the district hospital.
Dozens of concerned citizens hit the streets on Thursday night and reached the Shopian district hospital after rumours of shifting of the plant began doing rounds. The protesters raised slogans and appealed to authorities to not shift the plant from the hospital.
According to officials, this plant was set up in the hospital two months ago when Covid-19 second wave was at its peak in this far-flung district.
According to a senior doctor, recently about 60 patients, mostly Covid-19 patients, were on oxygen support in the hospital and currently there are 20 patients on medical oxygen support in the hospital.
The PDP’s district president in Shopian and ex-MLA Wachi, Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Mir, called it a “proverbial midnight heist” wherein people in Shopian were being robbed of life-saving oxygen amid a pandemic.
“Ours is a far-flung and hilly area. The oxygen generating plant is a lifeline not only for patients from Shopian but also from Pir Panjal area, from where patients come via the Mughal Road. Attempts to relocate the plant are clearly a crime against people of the area and this is completely unacceptable,” Mir said.
Shopian has, since the breakout of the pandemic, witnessed 55 deaths related to Covid-19, which is the lowest in any Kashmir district, but it also has the lowest population among all the districts in Kashmir, and the mortality rate here is also higher, at above 2 percent, than in most other Kashmir districts.
Residents of Shopian town said that some material from the oxygen plant was even being loaded in a truck, which included a storage tank-like equipment, when they reached the hospital premises late Thursday night.
Medical Superintendent of District Hospital Shopian, Dr Ismail, told Kashmir Reader that the oxygen plant was very much in the hospital and being utilised for patient care. “We have currently 20 patients on oxygen support and rumours of shifting of this plant are false,” he said.
Dr Ismail added that some equipment was being loaded in the truck by the engineering wing as it was needed at some other place.
He said he was not aware of what equipment was being shifted and where by the engineering wing.
Chief Medical Officer Shopian, Dr Arshad Hussain Tak, and Deputy Commissioner Shopian, Sachin Kumar Vaishya, didn’t respond to phone calls from this reporter.